Visual Arts Students Create Gnome Village By The Sea at Milner Gardens

May 27, 2014 - 8:45am

Using recycled metal objects, wood and other materials, students in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Visual Arts program have expressed their creativity by building an enchanted “steampunk gnome village by the sea” at Milner Gardens & Woodland in Qualicum Beach.

First year students enrolled in Arts 121, a 3D sculpture design course taught by instructor Jason Gress, used a variety of materials including recycled watches, electronics, old toys, cedar and other found objects to create their sculptures. Their artistic pieces, including bird houses, birds and gnomes, will be on display at Milner Gardens through to September.

"The purpose of the project was to introduce students to different mediums of wood and metal, and allow them to creatively explore the theme of steampunk, and respond to the specific installation site of Milner Gardens,” explains Gress. Steampunk refers to an artistic style – a sub-gentre of science fiction that typically features steam powered machinery.

Second year Visual Arts students also created eight large metal sculptures for the exhibit made almost exclusively out of metal. “Our senior students were required to work at a large scale, and to become proficient in welding,” adds Gress.

The student sculptures add an artistic flavour to the 70-acre forested Milner Gardens & Woodland, named one of the top 10 public gardens in Canada by National Geographic Magazine. Each year, the gardens welcomes thousands of visitors and hosts many special events, including the annual Christmas Magic, Art & Photography in the Gardens and more.

The property is home to an old-growth Douglas fir forest and estate garden featuring native and non-native plants, including more than 400 Rhododendron specimens.
Guests can enjoy traditional Victorian tea in the refurbished tearoom located in a historic home built on the property in 1931.

For more information and driving instructions, visit


Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @VIUNews

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